When you find it difficult to adapt to a new culture, that is a culture different from yours, you may be facing a culture shock.
Although it can represent a moment of tension, where reactions of intolerance or discrimination can occur, it can also lead to assimilation, coexistence and healthy integration.
As a welcoming institution for international students, we need to keep in mind that everyone is going through a process of cultural adaptation.
Also national students who arrive at a higher education institution for the first time, new researchers who arrive in a different environment, technicians who start to work in a new work culture… may face a culture shock.
We therefore want to avoid and help resolve intolerant reactions and, above all, promote the healthy integration of all.
Integrating, assimilating or acculturing does not mean abandoning or losing the previous cultural identity, but promoting the construction of cultural and personal responses that fit the new environment.
Culture shock can be summed up in four sequential and cyclical stages:
Honeymoon phase – period when the differences between the original and the new culture are seen in a romantic, new, euphoric and even idealized way. The differences are exciting and interesting. It is common for you to be enthusiastic about the journey, the novelty, the unknown. We are with you!
Crisis phase – a period that can start as a major crisis or can arise as a series of problems that accumulate. The growing feeling of discouragement, impatience and frustration is common. You can feel that people who are part of the new reality are indifferent to your difficulties and you dislike these people and that environment. Stereotypes are created or reinforced. If you persist in this process, you will not be able to understand holistically the environment in which you are inserted and you may want to return to your homeland. Try to surround yourself with people who can help you to demystify that feeling. Look for our help!
Adjustment phase – phase of recovery and adaptation in which you recognize your difficulty in understanding, accepting and adapting to the new culture. You develop the ability to solve problems to deal with culture and you start to accept it with a positive attitude. Adjustment is slow and requires several cycles of crisis and adaptation. Give yourself time and allow yourself to experiment! We are here to support you.
Acculturation phase – this phase is reached when you are able to develop stability in solving problems and learn to manage the new culture successfully. It may take some time. As the process of acculturation progresses, it is common for substantial changes to happen to you. Acculturation does not mean abandoning or losing your original cultural identity, but developing the personal and constructive capacity to have cultural and personal responses that fit the new environment. We will continue with you!